A Tale of the Seaboard. London and New York: Harper & Brothers, 1904. Original dark blue cloth decorated in light blue.
First Edition of Conrad's great novel involving a South American silver mine, and the corruption and dishonesty fostered by its riches.
Conrad was extending his "Lord Jim" theme: that the man who slowly grows rich can be a victim of the silver, not its conqueror; that wealth is not something gained but a trap for those who relinquish, however momentarily, their sense of themselves...
It was no coincidence that Conrad was in severe financial straits during the years that he wrote these novels. Despite (or perhaps reflecting) the two and a half years Conrad spent laboring over NOSTROMO, the book was not widely acclaimed upon its publication:
The reviews were nearly all bound to discourage the reader. [John] Buchan's estimation is characteristic: "It is not a book which the casual reader will appreciate. The sequence of events has to be sought painfully through the mazes of irrelevancy with which the author tries to mislead us. But it is a book which will repay those who give it the close attention which it deserves." [Karl]
Today there are many readers, both those who love NOSTROMO and those who cannot get through it, who would still agree with Buchan.
It is believed that the first edition consisted of about 2000 copies; we find it to be rather scarce, about third or fourth among Conrad's books. This is a near-fine copy, with scarcely any wear other than a tiny nick in the spine-head; the spine gilt is unusually bright. As is typical for this thick wove paper, there is some foxing on the leaves within (mainly just on the first few leaves and on the page edges). Cagle A10a.1; one of the "Modern Library 100" great novels of the 20th Century. Item #14168